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Haas family donation funds Digital Global Forum at new Thunderbird headquarters

The transformational gift is in support of the open rotunda event space that pioneers the latest presentation and telepresence technology

artist rendering of Thunderbird Global HQ's new Global Forum featuring several LED screens for multimedia interaction and presentations
August 04, 2021

The new Thunderbird Global Headquarters on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus was recently called the “most technologically advanced business school in the world” by one of the lead architects behind its elegant and inclusive design. Thunderbird Global HQ earns this praise largely for the technologically stunning Digital Global Forum envisioned by Thunderbird Director-General and Dean Sanjeev Khagram. This 21st-century gathering space and the dynamic technology within were made possible by a gift from Marius Haas, a Thunderbird alumnus from the class of 1991, and his wife, Lone Haas.

A vibrant and welcoming space near the building’s main entrance, the Digital Global Forum crystallizes and reflects the institution’s foundational mission of advancing inclusive and sustainable prosperity worldwide by providing a physical and digital synthesis of auditorium and amphitheater that’s open to everyone, everywhere. It’s a place for training new generations of principled global leaders to maximize the benefits of rapid technological advancements for all people and our living planet.

The Digital Global Forum features a stadium-style ring of LED video screens that form an encircling digital presentation field. Suspended at the center of the rotunda is a retractable LED globe capable of playing video and presenting dynamic information in a unique spherical form, including displaying Thunderbird social media feeds geographically, or appearing as a digital representation of planet Earth fed by real-time data from NASA. The spacious rotunda also includes two full-wall LED video screens, making for an enveloping, cinematic experience. All these integrated video surfaces are digitally empowered with live global connectivity for the most versatile, sophisticated meeting space in higher education.

Mr. and Mrs. Haas shared, “It is a tremendous privilege to support the Thunderbird community and create a space that empowers global entrepreneurs to lead, innovate, and create markets while embracing our cultural diversity around the world."

To empower students with leading-edge technology in a dynamic and interactive presentation space, Marius Haas (right) and his wife, Lone Haas, made a generous financial contribution to Thunderbird Global Headquarters on ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus.

By including a digital globe, video ring and video walls powered by state-of-the-art Planar LED technology, Thunderbird HQ’s Digital Global Forum greets visitors with an immersive audiovisual experience that not only allows for compelling in-person messaging but also equips the six-continent-spanning Thunderbird community to interact live with students, alumni and partners from Arizona to Zimbabwe in a new virtual modality, convening global audiences both in-person and virtually, simultaneously and seamlessly. The LED systems will connect T-birds and stakeholders from around the world with interactive capabilities including but not limited to panoramic presentations, live social media engagement and hybrid (in-person and virtual) conferences, such as hosting a symposium or seminar open to people in Phoenix and to participants from other countries who join remotely via virtual balconies, stages and spotlights. The forum’s integrated audiovisual system will link the global headquarters to Thunderbird’s nine established Regional Centers of Excellence around the world. With plans for 25 of these satellite mini-campuses in major commercial cities around the world by the year 2025 and guests capable of joining events virtually from almost any online device in any location, the Digital Global Forum will truly live up to its name.

Khagram is confident that this gift will propel Thunderbird even further into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, energizing the institution to take advantage of emerging and converging technologies that connect and engage us all with enhanced modes of collaborating and learning.

“This major gift for our new global headquarters is deeply personal to me as I have had the opportunity to get to know our incredible alum Marius Haas as an anchor member of the Thunderbird Global Advisory Council over the past years," Khagram said. "He represents the very, very best of Thunderbird; his support and guidance have been invaluable in the school’s turnaround and transformation. The Digital Global Forum symbolizes and is a practical manifestation of Thunderbird 4.0 @ ASU, where we are becoming the most global and digital leadership and management school in the world to advance sustainable and inclusive prosperity across our increasingly fragile planet.”

The Haases shared, “It is a tremendous privilege to support the Thunderbird community and create a space that empowers global entrepreneurs to lead, innovate and create markets while embracing our cultural diversity around the world.”

From the Netherlands, Haas attended Thunderbird to explore the world of global business, and his path led him to many roles in various companies, including president and chief commercial officer of Dell Technologies and senior vice president and worldwide general manager of Hewlett-Packard’s networking division. His current role is founding partner of BayPine Capital, a private equity firm focused on enabling businesses to drive a digital transformation so they can best compete in this new economy and Fourth Industrial Revolution, an area of expertise that Thunderbird shares as a trailblazer in the higher-education sector.

Haas spent most of his career leading executive teams and organizations in the technology and enterprise solutions industry and has significant expertise in digital transformation, emerging technologies and B2B technology-enabled business models. His deep understanding and commitment to supporting leaders in preparing their organizations to thrive in multinational and high-tech markets and industries made the T-bird alumnus a perfect collaborator for Thunderbird’s visionary director-general and dean.

“Thanks to Marius and Lone’s gift, our shared vision for advancing transformative learning and collaboration has become a reality in Thunderbird’s Haas Global Forum, which we see as a limitless lyceum for leadership, business and management training, serving as our new headquarters’ main portal to the world, a meeting and learning space designed and built for the new era of technological transformation already underway, which we’re now pioneering in higher education,” Khagram said.

Thunderbird will unveil the Haas Digital Global Forum during the Grand Opening and 75th Anniversary Global Reunion celebrations, held Nov. 4-7, 2021, when Thunderbird will welcome visitors from around the world to share in this incredible new space. The anniversary and reunion week will include global culture nights featuring food, music and dance from around the world, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a golf tournament, a scholarship gala and a leadership conference. More information about Thunderbird Global Headquarters’ Grand Opening and 75th Anniversary Global Reunion is available at

Written by Megan Petty, senior associate director, development, Office of Engagement at Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU.

Top photo: Thunderbird's new Global Forum will greet visitors, students and alumni, connecting all via social media live updates from the school's worldwide community and providing a space for presentations that are global in reach and interactive in format. Thunderbird at ASU/Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners